BYU basketball: Monday games are 'interesting' for Cougars
SAN DIEGO — Following a 95-78 home victory Saturday over Santa Clara, BYU coaches and players were in a hurry to catch a flight.
The Cougars boarded a plane bound for California Saturday night so they could spend Sunday in San Diego in advance of their game Monday (8 p.m., MST, BYUtv) against the University of San Diego.
Playing on Mondays is somewhat of a challenging situation for BYU, since the Cougars do not practice on Sundays, as per school policy.
"We're going to church and a fireside," coach Dave Rose said Saturday night about his team's Sunday schedule. "We'll be able to relax on Sunday and get ready for Monday."
As he left the interview room, Rose lightheartedly recited (no, he didn't sing) an LDS Primary song: "Saturday is a special day. It's the day we get ready for Sunday."
Rose pointed out that his team hasn't played on a Monday in about two years, when the Cougars defeated Arizona in Tucson, 99-69, on the strength of Jimmer Fredette's 49-point outburst.
Because the Cougars don't practice on Sundays, Monday games are "interesting for us as far as our preparation is concerned," Rose said.
"It's a quick turnaround," said senior forward Noah Hartsock. "We've got to prepare for this more mentally than out there on the court. I know the coaches will put together a great game plan for us. It's kind of a new thing to play one day, have a day off, then play again. But I think we're adapting to it well."
The quirky West Coast Conference schedule has BYU facing the same San Diego team that it beat a little more than two weeks ago, on New Year's Eve in Provo, 88-52.
The Toreros shot just 23 percent from the floor in that game. Freshman guard Johnny Dee, who averages a team-high 15.2 points per game, was held to two points, and an 0-for-7 shooting performance. On the season, Dee has had six games where he has scored at least 22 points.
Meanwhile, the Cougars' Brandon Davies scored 22 points and grabbed 21 rebounds in that Dec. 31 contest.
After falling to BYU, San Diego lost to Saint Mary's and Loyola Marymount. Then, last Thursday, the Toreros snapped their six-game losing streak and earned their first WCC victory with a 75-62 decision over Santa Clara.
"We played San Diego once before and they didn't shoot the ball particularly well," Rose said. "They've played really well of late. We'll have to get in the gym on Monday, and have a pretty detailed shootaround and then get ready to play Monday night."
Typically in conference play, a school plays all the other conference opponents in the first half of the league schedule, then the rotation starts over in the second half. But when BYU joined the WCC, which gave the league nine teams, the scheduling process became complicated.
"This feels a little different — in January, playing a Monday game and Thursday game (the Cougars host Loyola Marymount) against teams you've already played in league," Rose said. "But I've said this all along — they all count the same. You count them up at the end and see who's got the most. They're big for us."
Hartsock said the Cougars won't take San Diego lightly.
"We've just got to focus on what we did in the first game against San Diego," he said. "We know they've improved by the way the they're playing. We've got to come in ready with the mindset that it's going to be a competitive game and focus on what we can do."
The last time BYU played in San Diego, it was at Viejas Arena last February.. The then-No. 7 Cougars knocked off No. 6 San Diego State, 80-67, in front of a hostile sellout crowd and a national television audience watching on CBS.
Cougars on the air
BYU (15-4, 4-1) at San Diego (6-10, 1-3)
Monday, 8 p.m., MST
Jenny Craig Pavilion
Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM
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